FinTech Interview with Alana Levine, Chief Revenue Officer at Fintel Connect

FTB News DeskJune 13, 202322 min

Alana Levine, CRO at Fintel Connect, shares insights into her role and the challenges she faces in driving growth!
Alana Levine,Chief Revenue Officer of Fintel Connect

Alana Levine is CRO and founding member of Fintel Connect. She has experience across multiple niche verticals servicing 50+ markets worldwide, with a passion for partnerships, marketing, and business development. Alana previously held leadership roles in both SaaS technology and fintech businesses and holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology and a post-graduate degree in finance from McGill University.

Alana, please introduce yourself to our audience and tell us how you got started in the affiliate marketing industry.

Complete happenstance. My background is actually in finance and economics, but I was connected with our founder around 11 years ago and fell in love with what she was building. For those in affiliate marketing who know, the channel is a perfect match between advertorial and PR, and what attracted me to this industry was the inherent foundation of partnership where everyone wins – brand, affiliate, and consumer. The opportunity to work at a technology company that really specialized and offered ways to scale and create efficiency with this type of marketing was exciting.

What attracted you to Fintel Connect and the opportunity to become a CRO?

Fintel Connect emerged from another business that we ran in a different industry. We recognized a huge opportunity in financial services and evaluated whether we could really make a difference and create value by bringing a new solution to the space.
My background and career have focused on growth, which means leveraging scrappy marketing and creating meaningful partnerships and relationships. As a result, I took on the responsibility of driving the growth of the business forward. When we launched the product at the start of the COVID pandemic, we had to be scrappy and go back to basics by focusing on building networks, leveraging existing connections, and naturally – creating meaningful partnerships. This approach created the strong foundation that we have today.

How do you define success in your role as CRO?

As a venture-backed SaaS company focused on achieving our growth targets, our objective is to create predictability around growth, which is a work in progress, especially as our product and commercial model continue to evolve. We measure our success by the predictable growth in new partnerships and customers, as well as our team’s growth and the development of their skill sets as we expand this area of the business.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you face in your position and how do you overcome them?

There is always too much to do, especially because we are still a fairly lean team. It can be difficult to see so many opportunities in front of you and really hone in on the thing that you know will bring the greatest success. It is important to say no to some opportunities because you need to focus on your main goals, and this is probably one of the hardest things for a founder early on. You must know where to put your energy and when to say, “Not now, maybe later.”

Additionally, we are fighting against some bigger more well-known household brands in the space. We are also working to build our credibility in a highly regulated and compliant industry, where credibility is a significant factor.

Can you describe your leadership style and how you motivate and empower your team?

I make a conscious effort to lead by example and empower my team, ensuring that each person has their own individual responsibilities that they own. Organizationally, we set targets and goals for individual team members and give our team the right balance of structure and freedom to achieve them on their own.

What are some of the emerging trends in the affiliate marketing space that you are paying attention to?

First and foremost, a transitioning trend that deserves attention is the use of platforms like TikTok in the financial services industry. There is a lot of talk about those who have a voice in this space and how much content Gen Z consumes on this platform.

According to a survey by Morning Consult, almost 68% of Gen Z scroll through TikTok and 76% are on Instagram for more than 4 hours a day. It is essential to consider other avenues that affiliates can potentially use for content creation if TikTok were to disappear. ChatGPT is another one that of course comes to mind, and it will have a significant impact on the quality of content available. The credibility of content is also crucial, and having direct relationships and access to brands makes a big difference in the voice affiliates have and the trust they can create with their audiences.

Finally, an important trend to keep an eye on is the rollout of GA4 and its impact on rankings and reporting metrics once switched on. There are significant foundational shifts taking place, and while they are happening slowly, we will likely start to see a true impact in the latter half of this year.

How do you stay on top of industry changes and ensure Fintel Connect remains competitive?

Our audiences fall into two categories, and we closely monitor what is happening with our affiliates in the marketing space. This involves consuming content through marketing and performance publications, as well as staying up to date with regulatory changes in the financial industry. Additionally, we keep an eye on market trends, such as inflation and interest rates, as they will impact how end consumers behave and therefore what our clients will want to be focusing on from a marketing standpoint. It is crucial to stay on top of these trends so we can better serve and guide our customers, providing them with direction on where they can achieve the most success depending on their goals.

How does Fintel Connect approach customer service and support for its clients?

We take a partnership approach with all of our clients. Every brand we work with has a different need and priority. For fintech partners, we understand the need to be lean and prove ROI quickly on marketing spend. For more traditional financial brands that are just getting started with digital, we provide a lot more high-touch guidance and support to help train their teams and set them up for success in the long term.

How does Fintel Connect prioritize diversity and inclusion within the company and industry?

We believe in hiring based on merit and provide training to our team and hiring managers to objectively assess the skills required for each position. Our goal is to create a supportive and inclusive environment. Our team is very inclusive, and we are proud to be based in Vancouver, whose population is inherently very diverse and has a deep value-set of supporting people from all walks of life and backgrounds. We aim to emulate this through our hiring and promotional practices. This is most easily seen when you look at our C-Suite team of women.

How do you balance the needs of clients and partners with the goals of Fintel Connect?

Bluntly speaking, our growth is tied to our client’s growth. We succeed when our clients succeed. Therefore, we only take on clients where we know we can make a significant difference. Over the past 12 months, we have been in a discovery phase and have refined our definition of an ideal client. When we bring on a client that is a good fit and they start to see the success that we can deliver, everyone wins.

Can you discuss any challenges or opportunities you see for Fintel Connect in the current market?

Regulatory fluctuations will always present challenges, and there is a lot of unpredictability in the current economic climate. Therefore, we closely monitor what major financial institutions are doing, as well as any shifts in priorities around the campaigns they are running and what they are looking to promote. The challenge is staying on top of these developments and guiding our clients based on what we see. We also aim to support our affiliate partners by providing them with transparency and advance notice if we anticipate any shifts.

What excites you most about the future of Intel Connect and the affiliate marketing industry?

As a business, what excites me the most is the position we are creating for ourselves and the direction we are moving towards. Our vision is to be the digital backbone of financial services, and while we currently only touch a small piece of that marketing stack, there is so much opportunity. We have done some serious heavy lifting and set the foundation to be able to bolt on new functions and features based on our client’s needs. An example of this is our Fintel Check tool to support marketing compliance. We will continue to build on this and create solutions that serve the industry best.

On the affiliate side, affiliate marketing has been around for many years, and it is a channel that often does not get enough love or is not considered a foundational pillar like Google or Facebook. However, it still has so much potential for continued growth. The influencer space has helped shine a light on affiliates and give them a fresh new perspective. I believe this channel will continue to evolve, and if we can support content creators and make it easy for meaningful partnerships to take place, there is infinite room for growth in this space.

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